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Value of Vaccines 2020

Collaboration – the key to efficient vaccine development

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Stefan Jungbluth, PhD MBA

Head of Business Development, European Vaccine Initiative

Catarina Luís, PhD 

Communication Manager, European Vaccine Initiative

Ole Olesen, PhD 

Executive Director, European Vaccine Initiative

Global partnerships are essential for accelerated development of urgently needed vaccines. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has sorely reminded us that there is no time to lose when developing vaccines for a world in desperate need.

Given the complexity and interdisciplinarity of vaccine development, international research collaboration has proven key for overcoming the scientific, financial and social challenges it involves.

Product development partnerships – a global approach to worldwide problems 

The fast-track development of vaccines for COVID-19 and Ebola has illustrated the importance of global collaboration for swift development of vaccines.  

Even before these outbreaks, international partnerships have been the preferred model for developing new or improved health tools. This is especially true for diseases disproportionally affecting low-and middle-income countries, and whose solutions lack commercial incentives. 

Product development partnerships (PDPs) are non-profit organisations that started emerging in the 1990’s. International, cross-sectorial partnerships are their basis, involving public research institutions, private sector, governments, and civil society – including partners from affected countries.

PDPs facilitate vital projects, such as one of the current projects by the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) which undertakes the clinical testing of a vaccine candidate for a stigmatising skin disease called post kala azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL). 

Coordinated by EVI, partners from United Kingdom, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia are teaming up to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this vaccine for preventing PKDL.

The fast-track development of vaccines for COVID-19 and Ebola has illustrated the importance of global collaboration for swift development of vaccines.  

Feeding two or more birds with one seed

Research into individual vaccines, albeit essential, is only part of the puzzle. Other initiatives are needed that can have a more wide-spread and transformative impact on vaccine development.  

One of them is TRANSVAC, an initiative that aims to establish a sustainable, disease-overarching vaccine infrastructure and that is supported by more than +20 leading research organisations from across Europe.  

Such an infrastructure will allow to pool and leverage existing resources, technologies and other tools, creating synergies that truly convert it into an accelerator of vaccine development.  

In times when some may choose to build barriers; building alliances, sharing ideas and resources across disciplines, borders and cultures not only fosters better innovation and faster progress, but also a more resilient society.

The European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) is a PDP that has supported the development of 40 different vaccine candidates from discovery to early/mid-stage clinical development for different diseases/pathogens, including malaria, leishmaniasis, diarrhoeal diseases, and emerging pathogens. 

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